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I'm basically looking for advice on how to balance the magic system I'm designing for my novel.

Basically, the way it works is this:

There are six known Realms beyond this one where almost magic users draw their abilities from. Such a magician is called a Realmtapper. Each Realm is tapped into a bit differently. However, there are Six major Kingdoms in this world, and each one taps into a different one of these Realms - that is to say, there is 'one Realm per kingdom.' However, this Realmtapping 'energy' is the same for all Six Kingdoms. As a result, an enchanted item from the Elemental kingdom that, as an example, can be used as a heating device, can be recharged by a Realmtapper from another kingdom, but not recreated or modified in any way.

  • The Sea of Might, Realm of Sorcery - such as psychic and telepathic abilities, as well as teleporation. Used by drawing invisible runic symbols into the air.

  • The Nameless Mist, Realm of Power. This includes physically improving the body and senses, as well as shapeshifting. Used by channeling mentally and consistently and maintaining one's concentration.

  • The Endless Shades, Realm of Elements such as fire and water and whatnot. Used by performing certain physical movement patterns, akin to martial arts moves, to do different actions with the elements.

  • The Divine Peaks, Realm of Favors - such as blessings and curses - and also of manipulating and solidifying light. Used by calling upon the Peaks in a form similar to prayer.

  • The Veil of Souls, Realm of Death, including raising the dead and all that that entails, as well as manipulating and solidifying solid shadow. Used by splintering the soul in pieces that are infused with power.

  • Advah. This is the world the story takes place on, and the magical powers here involve infusing yourself with improvements - ie physical strength, senses, no need to eat or drink for a while, etc - as well as, more uncommonly, the ability to control/manipulate metals and gravitational and electromagnetic fields.

There are, however, limitations to this.

  • Realmtapping exhausts stamina. The more you tap, the more tired you are. You can use several small realmtapping abilities, or perhaps one large one, before you are exhausted to the point of stopping. If you continue to realmtap beyond your limits, you will lose consciousness. As a result, being in good physical shape helps Realmtap for longer periods of time.
  • Realms have ties to certain environments. You can expect Realmtapping to come easily in some locations, but require much more effort in others. The Sea of Might is connected to knowledge, and as such is stronger in areas where knowledge is more prevalent, like libraries or books or other places of learnings. The Shades is connected to nature and 'uncivilized' land, etc. As a result, you may be an excellent Realmtapper of the Shades, but there are some things you just can’t do in a well-populate, industrialized city.
  • The Realm Barrier can vary wildly. The barrier acts as a sort of buffer between Advah and the space between all of the Realms - that space being known as the mysterious Realm-Between-Realms. The stronger the Realm Barrier is to where you are located on Advah, the harder it is to Realmtap. However, that’s not all. The Barrier fluctuates based on how much that Realm is currently being tapped into at your location - as a result, the more you Realmtap in a certain location, the more difficult it becomes, through the barrier slowly grows more stable over time in periods of low usage.
  • Being able to Realmtap is something that approximately ~1% of the population can do.

Also, I can go into detail with any specific Realm if you ask me to! I just didn't want to dump too many words here at once without cause.

I suppose my main concerns are these:

  • How do I balance the Mist to be more in line with the others (it seems a bit weak to me?) and how do I do the same for the Peaks? (This one seems to powerful, unless I limit it somehow to only be short-term effects of something to that end.)
  • Are there any glaring problems you guys think I might encounter with said system? Are there not enough restrictions?

The two questions above are the main ones I'm really here to ask about. The two below are just sort of there, and it'd be really nice if someone wanted to take a stab at them :)

  • If this world was to take place in an almost early 1900's level of technological advancement, how might each Realm either improve or replace certain technologies? Some obvious ones are of course the Elemental kingdom having an easy time with... well, a lot of things, but if you have any other things you want to mention please feel free to do so!
  • And, of course, is there anything else I should consider as I build this system up?
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  • $\begingroup$ Also I don't wan't to be nitpicky but this is like four questions. $\endgroup$ – Ummdustry Jul 30 '18 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ I know - is this too many? Should I just cut the second set off? $\endgroup$ – doplin Jul 30 '18 at 22:18
  • $\begingroup$ For future reference I would ask questions like this in multiple stages yes. That being said the question is asked now so I don't see why not to just leave it $\endgroup$ – Ummdustry Jul 30 '18 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ It would be a lot clearer if you removed the names and jargon and just stuck to the mechanics. Call it "Type A", "Type B", etc. if you can't think of a non-jargony names. $\endgroup$ – TheBlackCat Jul 31 '18 at 2:46
  • $\begingroup$ This is a primarily opinion-based question, IMHO. When I was reading your question I was thinking that Peaks was quite weak compared to the others. As in, a Mist user could rip the throat of a Peaks user before the latter could finish to say their prayer. Without much more information about how powerful (and inmediate) these blessings and curses are, or what limitations Mist users have there are way too many options of balancing those powers you should think for yourself. $\endgroup$ – Rekesoft Jul 31 '18 at 10:06
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What you need to do is get rid of the idea that these six realms are independent of each other, but rather interconnected to each other. You might think of the realms as the "gravity wells" in a much larger but much more nebulous universe, for example.

enter image description here

Demonstrating the interaction of gravity wells can create other effects

In the simplest version, if you imagine the size "realms" arrayed like the points of a hexagon, then tapping one "realm" causes a pull on the other realms as well. You can imagine yourself in the middle attached to each of the six points by an elastic cord; pulling towards one vertex means you will be pulled upon by the other five.

Amateur magicians try to do this all the time (which is why they tire so rapidly), but more adept magicians who understand seek to balance the various pulls for the effects they want to create, they will be somewhat offset from the centre of the hexagon, with two or more lines slack and the others trying to pull back to centre.

A "fully connected" network diagram with six nodes (i.e. six realms) could have even more interesting permutations, since each node isn't simply independently sitting in the multiverse, but also connected to every other node, allowing for a multitude of interesting permutations, connections and so on

enter image description here

Fully connected network

As you can see from the diagram, attempting to pull from the neutral position (i.e. the centre) is much more complicated and can set up a multitude of second and third order effects than a simple connection of everything to the centre.

I'm sure you will come up with other ideas as you play with the diagram (indeed, reversing the idea and having rigid connections rather than elastic or tension ones gives the idea an entirely new flavour).

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  • $\begingroup$ What if I were to make it three-dimensional? I'm not sure if I can easily draw it out, but essentially a prism instead of a hexagon? Could be interesting if people tap into, not so much a Realm, but more a specific location in that three-dimensional realm-space. $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 1 '18 at 16:21
  • $\begingroup$ Three dimensionality with only six points would lead to a fairly simplified magical universe (think being inside a hollow globe with 4 cardinal directions and the North and South pole as your points). If you are going to do this you might consider having a multitude of points, creating something like a dodecahedron: pixels.com/featured/dodecahedron-leonardo-da-vinci.html $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Aug 2 '18 at 0:39
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The realm of mist has major medical applications perhaps? Being able to perhaps cure bacterial infections by having a realm tapper channel energy into the patients immune system would easily make it increadably importantant in a pre-antibiotics world. Perhaps they can just as easily tap strength away from other people by touch making for an effective weapon?

Perhaps blessings and curses can be dispelled by any sufficiently powerful tapper of another discipline? Or perhaps peak tappers have an element of randomness to them accidentally giving the wrong blessing/curse from time to time.

You could always of course simply make the more powerful tapping disciplines rarer and less powerful ones more common amongst the populations that posses them.

Finally of course you could always leave them unbalanced and address this in universe this isn't a video game after all.

Edit: As for further applications of your magic: I'm worried about the veil of death, how easy is it to raise the dead and are they zombies or just no longer dead? If you have a realm of effectively Immortals or people who can communicate with the dead they will automatically the leading scientific power due to the fact they don't loose knowledge every time someone dies. And surely it's bound to have a religious impact?

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  • $\begingroup$ All things for me to consider - thanks a ton! $\endgroup$ – doplin Aug 2 '18 at 18:32
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It depends what you expect the magic user to be doing.

As with any power, people will find a niche for themselves. If you think of it in terms of a game then Peaks might make good healers while Mists manual labour, transport, communication. They would also make excellent spies/assassins, with enhanced hearing or shape shifting into a cat to roam around freely, to a bird that can escape sticky situations, to smell for tracking.

Since you have already mentioned several ways of limiting usage, this could extend to your realms. What if buffing someone took less toll than cursing? Or an average Mists user could shape shift several times a day (depending on location) while the average Peaks user could only curse once or twice?

Final note on location. If it is easier to use certain tapping based the environment, say for example Peaks is easier near a Church, but Mists is just enhancing the body, so instead is equally easy everywhere. This will neatly explain my previous point of an average Mists user being able to use their power more than an average Peaks user, while sitting within the bounds of your world.

Additional: Just having a think about the restrictions. If realms are tied to certain areas, you would expect people with matching abilities to flock their, either for training purposes or to sit with their biggest power well for example. Since everyone will want this advantage you will get a lot of people and thus, a lot of realm tapping in that area. This will then diminish its strength as its being used more.

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